From my upstairs bedroom window, I could see it all:
who got to school early to be first for tether ball,
the teachers driving up the street, avoiding children running
some children in the sandbox, and other children sunning
stretched out on the teeter-totters, waiting for a ride—
their friend the perfect size to balance, still locked up inside
cleaning off the chalkboards and dusting the erasers
with others who’d been tardy, or perhaps desktop-defacers.
We could hear the school bell toll the warning for
just one more bite of Cream of Wheat—no time for any more.
I stood and watched as sisters sprinted out the door.
Going on without me, for I was only four.
I waited then for recess, spread out on the grass
waiting for the hours and minutes just to pass.
Through open windows, I could hear all the teacher voices
quizzing all the children and listening to their choices.
The teacher on piano, the class singing along—
long before my school days, I’d memorized each song.
At 10:15, the bell was rung and big doors thrown out wide—
one hundred children, all at once, released to the outside.
Some ran to claim the swings and slides, or lined up for the games:
choosing sides for “Send ‘Em” by calling out their names.
But the creaking of the swing chains and whoops up on the slide
could not reveal the mysteries of what was sealed inside.
Year after year I watched and listened, storing up the clues
for the day that I could put on my new school shoes.
I’d have my school bag at my side while mother curled my curls
and keep it with me as I ate my breakfast with the girls,
spooning up my Cream of Wheat but listening for the bell
that warned the time was getting short for me to run pell-mell
across the street and up the stairs in brand new skirt and blouse.
I knew which room to look for. I could see it from my house.
And then perhaps my mom would stand under our big elm tree
and the singing that she listened for would finally include me!
The Prompt: August Blues—As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school?